Art, Tech And Hemp Combines For Modern Château Living

A chic Parisian couple decamped to Le Château du Marais for their ambitious enterprise.

By Christopher Bagley 26/04/2022

In the autumn of 2020, when the whole world suddenly came to a halt, city dwellers began concocting all kinds of escape fantasies. Some imagined moving to a rural area and becoming sustainable farmers; a number nursed long-dormant artistic ambitions; still others devised plans for new tech ventures, with visions of blockchains dancing in their heads.

But one Parisian couple, Victoire de Pourtalès and Benjamin Eymère, dreamed up a project that combined all three of these scenarios, plus a few more. Their bold new venture, as Eymère explains while steering his Citroen Ami electric buggy toward their hemp field in the French countryside, is a kind of highbrow ecological amusement park: “an open-sky R&D laboratory” that links art, nature and science.

It helps that the couple’s new base of operations is Le Château du Marais, a magnificent 980-acre estate in the French countryside that’s been in de Pourtalès’s family for generations—and that gives their enterprise, 91.530 Le Marais, its name (the number is courtesy of the local zip code). De Pourtalès grew up in its extraordinary Louis XVI-era château, encircled by a moat. But for her and Eymère, the main draws of the place are the forests and fields that surround it. And although wheat has always been the area’s chief crop, hemp got the couple’s attention for its potential as a sustainable super-plant: It requires no pesticides, grows quickly and can be used to make eco-friendly alternatives to pretty much anything, from construction materials to face creams. It’s biodegradable, of course, and because the entire plant can be used in various ways, there’s almost zero waste. They harvested their first crop in September. (Like marijuana, hemp is a cannabis, but its cultivation is not restricted since it contains minimal amounts of the psychoactive compound THC.)

Château du Marais

The couple checking on their hemp crop. Christopher Bagley

To those who knew the couple well during their previous lives at the heart of the Paris cultural scene, their new roles are only mildly surprising. Granted, they weren’t exactly farmer types: de Pourtalès cofounded VNH Gallery and was a director of David Zwirner’s Paris space until 2020, while Eymère is CEO of L’Officiel Inc., the international magazine group, and cofounder of the blended-sake brand Heavensake. But they and their two young sons have always spent weekends at the château, an hour south of the city. De Pourtalès’s father was an avid naturalist and homeopath who treated her childhood sniffles with potions made from herbs he gathered in the woods. She still likes to take invigorating dips in the moat.

Château du Marais

Coffee and croissants for breakfast. Christopher Bagley

Whenever they’re in work mode, both de Pourtalès and Eymère tend to think big. One of their early moves was hiring Kulapat Yantrasast, the Bangkok-born, Los Angeles– and New York–based architect who’s a favourite in the art world, to devise a plan for an outdoor arena adjacent to the hemp fields. Built primarily of wood and “greencrete”—a hemp-based answer to concrete—and surrounded by a newly planted bamboo forest, with two soaring portals at the entrance, the space will host cultural and community events, and maybe the occasional fashion show, after it’s completed next year. “You can do concerts, art shows, festivals, farmers markets, anything,” says Yantrasast. A former disciple of the Japanese architect and concrete master Tadao Ando, Yantrasast is gung-ho about hemp’s promise as a green building material. “Concrete is great, but it has its limitations,” he says. “It’s not recyclable. And hempcrete is much more porous, so it’s better at absorbing heat and sounds.”

Château du Marais

Architect Kulapat Yantrasast atop a hay bale near the outdoor arena he’s designing. Christopher Bagley

Part of what drew Yantrasast to the project was de Pourtalès and Eymère’s innovative approach to keeping the château’s history alive. Grand ancestral properties, Yantrasast points out, have a way of becoming money pits, and aristocratic families often fumble in their attempts to keep them going: “How do you sustain the glory of the past while bringing something new to it?”

The answer for de Pourtalès includes a year-round arts-and-culture program, which she sees as a natural extension of the estate’s terroir. The château has been a haven for artists and writers since the early 19th century, when memoirist Madame de la Briche hosted a well-known literary salon here and intellectuals such as François-René de Chateaubriand were frequent long-term guests. De Pourtalès’s great-grandmother, American-born heiress Anna Gould, continued the tradition after moving in in 1897 following her marriage to Count Boniface de Castellane. Today, de Pourtalès says, more and more artists are feeling a primal urge to live amid nature while using it as inspiration. Meanwhile, the Paris contemporary-art scene keeps gaining prominence worldwide, which is “great for the galleries and for the city—but sometimes we forget about the artists,” who don’t always have good spaces to create.

Château du Marais

The château’s ballroom. Christopher Bagley

In 2019, de Pourtalès began a residency program, hosting artists in some of the estate’s outbuildings. Last year, young French painter John Fou spent two months prepping an equestrian series that he exhibited in the form of a conceptual merry-go-round, inspired by the property’s 100-odd horses, with all the canvases positioned in a circle and facing inward. In October, Belgian artist Edith Dekyndt displayed a large piece of fabric that she’d buried on site for three months, part of her ongoing explorations of the mutability of everyday objects. Later this year, alongside a creek next to the arena, construction will begin on a village of at least two dozen “artist stables”—small studio dwellings, also made of greencrete and designed by Yantrasast. They’ll be available for overnight stays to all kinds of visitors, including school groups and nature-starved weekenders, as well as artists, musicians, architects and writers hungering for what de Pourtalès describes as a “creative community.”

Château du Marais

Artist John Fou in front of two of his paintings, inspired by the estate’s horses. Christopher Bagley

On the technological front, the couple have turned to the latest science to reimagine the old-school agrarian château model. Although the French countryside is dotted with picturesque farm plots, many outsiders don’t realise that the agricultural system here was industrialized decades ago. Eymère and de Pourtalès are looking to re-establish a more holistic, more sustainable connection between grower and land through the use of precision farming methods, which aim to increase productivity while reducing the environmental impact. A Russian company called Acron created a custom fertilizer for the hemp field’s clay-rich soil. Digital monitoring devices installed atop the portals of the arena will gather climate data that can be shared with neighbouring farms. And instead of just selling the crop at harvest time, the pair are heavily involved in developing the products that will contain their hemp, partnering with established small-scale manufacturers. In addition to the greencrete, they’re working on textiles and yarns, as well as natural oils for beauty products. A blockchain system will allow full traceability, “from the seedling all the way to the final material,” Eymère says.

“Bringing tech to the rural environment is a good business proposition, but it’s also a good artistic proposition,” he adds. “We are seeing more artists working with scientists.” The château’s inaugural art exhibit last summer, Phytocene, was the brainchild of two musicians and a biophysicist. After placing probes in the hemp field to track the intricate ways that individual plants communicate with one another, the artists turned the data into a video-and-sound piece and projected it on a giant wall in one of the estate’s stunning old granaries. At the time of writing, the couple are still planning the 2022 calendar, but already on the lineup is a dual residency by the young artists Bianca Bondi and Guillaume Bouisset, who intend to collaborate on an “alchemic installation” in the granaries involving halo-bacteria, minerals and crystals.

Château du Marais

Phytocene, a sound-and-video work by Agoria, Nicolas Becker and Nicolas Desprat, exhibited in a former granary. Christopher Bagley

Like more and more French people their age and younger, de Pourtalès and Eymère, both 40, possess an entrepreneurial instinct that runs counter to the rigid and retrograde stereotypes that have often plagued their countrymen (particularly the ones who live in castles). Eymère has a law degree from NYU, and de Pourtalès has organized art exhibits on multiple continents; their social circle skews predominantly creative and international. “Without the foreigners, Paris is not Paris,” de Pourtalès says. “Of course, some Parisians will say that they’re very happy without foreigners, but they can’t survive without them.”

A few of the couple’s more cautious friends have asked them if they’re attempting to tackle too much. Among their latest product ideas is a hemp-based artisanal gin. De Pourtalès smiles and shrugs. “Yes, it’s ambitious,” she says of 91.530 Le Marais. “But we’re doing it little by little. It’s really a lifetime project.”

Château du Marais

A view of the moat and gardens. Christopher Bagley

De Pourtalès and Eymère have also just renovated and moved into the château’s 18th-century carriage house, which is closer to the farm than the grand main residence (where de Pourtalès’s mother and aunt still live). They’ve stocked the place with contemporary artworks—ceramic pieces by Eric Croes, a painting by Cy Gavin, a tiled installation by Mimosa Echard—and enrolled their sons in the village school. From their garden they can hear the tractors, smell the horses and monitor any storm clouds that threaten the fields.

“I used to find it boring when farmers talked constantly about the weather,” de Pourtalès says. But after the couple planted their first round of bamboo seedlings last summer, they endured several straight days of downpours. “It just kept on raining! So of course that’s all we talked about. Then we totally understood. Farming becomes your life.”

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A Michael Jordan Logoman Patch Card Just Sold for a Record $2.9 Million at Auction

The one-of-one piece is now the most expensive Jordan card to ever cross the auction block.

By Tori Latham 06/06/2024

Michael Jordan was a record-breaking athlete—and the legendary hooper is continuing to set records more than two decades after his (final) retirement from the game.

A one-of-one signed and game-used Jordan Logoman patch card just sold for an eye-popping USD$2.9 million, making it the most expensive Jordan card ever sold at auction. The 2003 card was part of the Goldin 100 auction, where it received 38 bids before finally hammering down for that multimillion-dollar total.

Goldin

The rare card, which was included in an Upper Deck Ultimate Collection, is the very first signed Logoman patch card with Jordan in a Chicago Bulls jersey. The patch itself is from Jordan’s peak with the Bulls, a team he led to six NBA championships. The bold blue autograph on the bottom of the card, meanwhile, was graded PSA 10. It’s unclear where the card was before 2022, when it was submitted to PSA for grading, and this is the first time it’s been offered in a public auction. Altogether, it’s considered to be the most exclusive Jordan autographed Logoman card in the world.

While Jordan is perhaps most well known for what he’s done on the court, the baller is no stranger to making waves on the auction block, too. Earlier this year, a set of his NBA Finals–worn sneakers achieved a bonkers $8 million during a Sotheby’s auction. Even then, that’s not the most someone has paid for Jordan memorabilia: In 2022, the athlete’s game-worn “Last Dance” Finals jersey hammered down for a whopping USD$10.1 million.

The recent card sale may not match those numbers, but almost USD$3 million is still a hefty sum to pay for a relatively compact item. And the card easily swept the rest of the Goldin 100 auction. The highest following lot was a Kobe Bryant jersey that the late Los Angeles Laker wore during a 2013 game. That piece of sports history ended up going home with someone for USD$1.2 million.

As the richest basketball player ever, with a net worth of $3.5 billion as of a year ago, Jordan himself is far outearning his card’s value. But it’s unlikely that he would have ever made that much money without paving the sort of path that makes his memorabilia so desirable when it hits the auction block.

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You Can Now Buy and Sell Luxury Watches and Jewellery on eBay’s Consignment Service

The e-tailer is making inroads on being a major marketplace for high-end goods.

By Tori Latham 06/06/2024

eBay is continuing to make inroads into the luxury industry.

The website on Tuesday expanded its consignment service to include high-end watches, jewellery, and footwear. Among the brands being accepted by the program are Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, and Louis Vuitton for shoes; Chanel, David Yurman, and Neil Lane for jewellery; and Breguet, Girard-Perregaux, and Jaeger-LeCoultre for timepieces.

eBay’s consignment program debuted at the end of last year for handbags, and it added apparel to the mix in March. The service is meant to make selling high-end goods easier for those looking to offload their pieces, and more trustworthy for those hoping to buy them. The e-tailer has partnered with the company Linda’s Stuff to streamline the process: A seller fills out a simple intake form, then receives a prepaid and insured shipping label to send in their items. eBay and Linda’s Stuff photograph, price, and list the item, with the seller receiving a commission based on the final sale price. If a piece sells for $5,000 or more, for example, the seller receives 80 percent.

Since launching its consignment service, eBay has seen that items listed that way are selling for more than similar pieces listed on the website in the more traditional way. In just one example, a small quilted Chanel 19 flap bag consigned in December hurdled past the average sales price for the same purses sold on eBay by 45 percent.

In recent years, eBay has been training its efforts on making high-end, pre-owned items easier to sell and buy on its platform. It has implemented programs like Certified by Brand and Authenticity Guarantee to ensure that users feel confident when buying and selling luxury items on the website. And those sorts of used and refurbished items now compose 40 percent of eBay’s gross merchandise volume.

While it may seem a bit strange to sell your luxury items on eBay rather than a designated site like the RealReal, the e-tailer might be breaking out as the next big luxury marketplace, especially when it comes to pre-owned pieces.

 

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Four Seasons’ Private Jet Trips Will Take You to Asia, Africa, and Beyond in 2026

The six 2026 itineraries range from 13 to 21 days and cost between USD$159,000 and $229,000 per person.

By Rachel Cormack 06/06/2024

It’s never too early to start planning a vacation. Just ask Four Seasons.

The hospitality giant just unveiled its private jet itineraries for 2026, giving travelers a chance to book their next adventure a good two years in advance. Designed by a team of experts, the six journeys allow jet-setters to explore far-flung destinations in five-star luxury. You’ll fly the globe in the fully customized Four Seasons Airbus A321neo and stay in lavish Four Seasons hotels along the way. More importantly, guests can partake in curated experiences a cut above the typical tour.

“Our goal is to create connections with travelers of this generation and the next, fostering a legacy of transformative experiences that extend far beyond the journey,” Marc Speichert, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Four Seasons, said in a statement.

Dubai at Jumeirah Beach
Four Seasons

The itineraries cater to a wide range of travelers, with differing lengths and routes. The 16-day Asia Unveiled trip, for instance, takes guests on a deep dive into the East, with stops in Tokyo, Bali, Angkor Wat, Hoi An, Bhutan, the Maldives, and Bangkok. Other adventures, like the 21-day International Intrigue journey, cover many global destinations from the African savannah to the city of Paris.

Wellness enthusiasts can indulge at Four Seasons Resort Maldives.
Four Seasons

Similarly, the experiences on offer are designed to appeal to a myriad of personality types, from culture vultures and history nerds to thrillseekers and gourmands. On the African Wonders trip, fitness buffs can join a Maasai guide for a nature walk in the Serengeti and then chill out in a meditation session led by an expert yogi. During Timeless Encounters, explorers can take a submarine scooter to Bora Bora’s renowned diving spots. With International Intrigue and Asia Unveiled, wellness enthusiasts indulge in lavish treatments at the Island Spa within Four Seasons Resort Maldives. Asia Unveiled also allows foodies to embark on a sushi masterclass with a Michelin-starred chef in Tokyo, while International Intrigue gives gluttons the chance to craft six courses with celebrated chefs in Mexico City’s local markets. In addition, history connoisseurs can visit famous landmarks like the Taj Mahal on Timeless Encounters. That is just a taste of the experiences on offer, too.

The 2026 itineraries range from 13 to 21 days and cost between USD$159,000 and $229,000 per person. To start planning your trip, visit the Four Seasons website or email the team at fourseasonsjet@fourseasons.com.

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Audemars Piguet Just Dropped a Bevy of New Watches—Including a Mini Royal Oak

From the new Royal Oak Mini to skeletonised 37 mm versions and a wild asymmetrical reissue, AP just slayed the spring watch season.

By Nick Scott, Paige Reddinger, Allen Farmelo 06/06/2024

Audemars Piguet isn’t resting on its laurels and that’s likely just how former longtime CEO, François-Henri Bennhamias, intended. The colourful head honcho left his post at the helm this past December, but he certainly left his mark by taking the brand to USD$2.7 billion in sales by 2023 before handing over the reins to newly minted CEO, Ilaria Resta, who was hired from global perfumery company, Firmenich. (Resta is the latest female addition to AP’s top brass following the appointment of Ginny Wright, who came from L’Oreal, as the CEO of North America.)

Given the lead time of R&D in watchmaking, the latest watches are certainly the mark of Bennhamias’s direction, and the watches are anything but wallflowers. You have wildly innovative new materials like a Royal Oak prototype proposed in Chroma Gold—a new technique blending white gold, rose gold, and yellow gold into a camouflage pattern—and a funky new “Crystal Sand” finish on the Royal Oak Frosted Gold Selfwinding 34 mm model. Meanwhile, Code 11.59 gets decked in an extraordinarily challenging arrangement of sapphires and diamonds, and the latest [Re]Master02 comes in a funky 1960s tv-shaped case with beveled sapphire crystal glass.

Here’s a look at how Audemars Piguet is flexing its craftsmanship muscles with these daring new timepieces.

Audemars Piguet

At 23 mm across, these are not the smallest Royal Oaks ever produced: a 20mm iteration was launched in 1997, alongside a 44mm Royal Oak Grande Complication, to celebrate the model’s 25th anniversary. They’re also not the sparkliest Royal Oaks: any number of abundantly gem-set models are all vying for that crown.

But the frosted gold trio before you are definitely amongst the most attention-grabbing Royal Oaks to date, residing as they do in the intersection of two Goldilocks zones: they’re well suited to slender-wristed wearers, but not so small that they invoke outmoded notions of femininity; and they’re mischievously sparkly, but packing only carefully measured flamboyance.

Audemars Piguet

Built from 18 carat yellow, white or pink frosted gold, the new pieces’ shimmering diamond-dust effect contrasts beautifully with the polished bevels. The case, bezel and bracelet have been created using a Florentine jewelry technique first applied to a Royal Oak in 2016, and again in 2018 with the help of Carolina Bucci. The frosting involves hand-hammering the metal using a diamond-tipped tool, and the effect is uniquely elegant and understated.

The dials—like that on Gérald Genta’s original steel game-changer—are uncluttered bar the petite tapisserie pattern. Unlike Genta’s original (a major counter-offensive salvo from the mechanical watches camp during the quartz crises) the beating heart for this trio is calibre 2730, a quartz movement with a seven-year battery life and easy-to-use deactivation mode.

Audemars Piguet

The smallest selfwinding Royal Oaks ever made remain Calibre 2062, a 29mm piece – created by former head of Audemars Piguet’s design office Jacqueline Dimier – which retained the codes of Genta’s original model created in 1976, and the gem-set derivative released shortly afterwards.

“These mini creations pay tribute not only to Audemars Piguet’s long tradition of miniature and jewellery watches, but also to the women who have left their mark on the history of the brand, including Jacqueline Dimier to whom we owe the first Royal Oak for women, and Carolina Bucci, the mastermind behind the Frosted Gold finish,” said Ilaria Resta Audemars Piguet’s Chief Executive Officer, in a statement.

Audemars Piguet

Sébastian Vivas—the maker’s Heritage and Museum Director—added that the three pieces “demonstrate the extraordinary plasticity of the Royal Oak collection, which transcends decades, gender, trends and dimensions.”

Size: 27 mm
Material: white, yellow and rose gold
Price: $51,700

Audemars Piguet

AP’s frosted gold Royal Oaks have been a hit for the brand since it debuted as a collaboration with Italian jeweler, Carolina Bucci in 2016. There have been several versions, including one with a mirrored dial, and now the nouveau classic is sporting a “Crystal Sand” finish.

Audemars Piguet

The 34 mm model’s dial offers a magnified and dramatized interpretation of the hammered case and surface of the bracelet. Made from embossed ruthenium crystal, the dial is then adorned with a stamping die via electroforming, a process that forms or grows metal parts onto a model. The color is achieved through a galvanic bath of both rhodium and gold coating to accentuate its 3D form.

Audemars Piguet

Size: 34 mm
Material: frosted gold
Price: $93,250

Audemars Piguet

Since 2010, Audemars Piguet’s Openworked Royal Oak models have been offered in sizes ranging between 39 mm (e.g., reference 15305) and 41 mm (e.g., reference 15407). Something about skeletonizing watches seems to cause many brands to reach for its larger cases: Perhaps it’s the larger dial for skeletonizing, or perhaps it’s a tendency to assume that men who like big watches will also prefer openworked dials. To be honest, I’ve long shared the latter assumption, though I’ve never had much reason to examine it before now.

Audemars Piguet often challenges our assumptions (consider the Spider Man Royal Oak, for example), and this new Openworked Double Balance Wheel Royal Oak at 37 mm in white or rose gold disregards assumptions about gender and watches while also underlining the small watch trend for men.

Audemars Piguet

Thirty-seven mm is pretty much the perfect “unisex” size. Many brands (for example, Grand Seiko, Lange, Rolex, Zentih) offer 37 mm watches that serve as a bridge between their men’s and women’s collections, and sometimes these brands will point that out. However, in its typical avant garde manner, Audemars Piguet is way ahead of this shifting norm—especially when compared to its counterparts in the Horological Holy Trinity, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin, both of which offer 37 mm watches steered more obviously toward men or women with gem setting, or the lack thereof. By offering the Openworked Royal Oak at 37 mm, Audemars Piguet cleverly sidesteps that old-school his/hers conundrum.

Audemars Piguet

This watch is going to resonate with men who are continuing to lean toward smaller watches, and it’s going to resonate with women who are looking for a larger and more daring timepiece that won’t overpower (or simply overhang) their wrists. And this Royal Oak does all that gender bending by simply shrinking its skeletonized watch. In this regard alone, I think it’s a brilliant offering—and I’m not a big fan of openworked dials.

The dual balance wheel mechanism of caliber 3132 helps stabilize the balance staff in its ruby mount, which improves precision.
Audemars Piguet

With all that said, what’s really driving this watch’s avant garde nature is the movement, known as caliber 3132. The dual balance wheel is a unique approach to minimizing the tilt of the balance staff (the axil on which the balance wheel oscillates). When the balance wheel swings back and forth (like a pendulum), there is a tendency, due to inertia, for it to slightly tilt within its ruby mount. When the balance staff tilts (however slightly) gravity has its way with it, causing timing discrepancies in different positions (known as positional variance). By adding a second balance wheel (not just a second spring, as found in some movements), Audemars Piguet has added stabilizing mass to the mechanism, as well as a counter-force that further stabilizes the balance staff as it changes direction. Theoretically, this reduces tilt of the balance staff and reduces positional variance.

It also looks very cool, and you’ll get a good view from both the front and the back of this watch.

Size: 37 mm
Material: pink and white gold
Price: $147,300

Audemars Piguet

If you’d told me a few years ago that brutalism—a minimalist, institutional architecture style of the mid-20th century rendered with massive concrete slabs—was going to be a catchphrase of watch design by 2024, I’d have declared you an iconoclastic crackpot. But, you’d have been right.

Audemars Piguet has picked up on the recent nostalgia for that strangely appealing architectural style. Reaching into their catalog from the 1960s, when brutalism was peaking globally, they’ve found a very cool watch to recreate—or, as AP insists, to “[RE]Master.” Audemars Piguet has borrowed the term from the recording arts: Remastering is generally a slight modernizing of a recording for current markets, so the analogy holds here, as this watch slightly modernizes vintage model.

Audemars Piguet

Crafted from Audemars Piguet’s proprietary sand gold, the case will shift between white and pink gold hues, depending on ambient lighting. Using the trusted time-only only caliber 7129, this auto-winding mechanical movement is on display through a circular window in the caseback.

Audemars Piguet

Sébastian Vivas, AP’s Heritage and Museum Director, states that “Between 1959 and 1963, Audemars Piguet created more than 30 asymmetrical models, most of which were produced in less than 10 pieces. [RE]Master02 is a fantastic opportunity to revive this forgotten golden age.”

Audemars Piguet

Despite the wildly brutalist case, it may be the dial that steals the show here. Created using a dark blue PVD treatment over beautifully brushed surfaces, the 12 individually crafted dial segments cleverly help time telling without relying on applied markers. These dial segments are separated by galvanized sand gold partitions, and each segment sits on miniscule legs attached to a brass dial plate beneath. All of this geometric precision is accentuated by the beveled sapphire crystal.

Size: 41 mm
Material: sand gold
Price: $70,900(limited to 250 pieces)

Audemars Piguet

The Code 11.59 is getting all dolled up this year in a splash of gem-set models. Two 38 mm iterations come in either 18-karat pink gold or white gold set with 533 brilliant-cut diamonds and colored sapphires.

Audemars Piguet

What is notable here is the pixelated-looking setting. The pink-gold version comes with an array of navy, baby blue and yellow sapphires on the dial, while the white-gold version comes in pink and purple sapphires. Both look as though the colors were shaken in a glass and poured onto the dial so that the pattern is haphazardly arranged. It’s a fun take on a gem-set dial, one which we can’t recall seeing before and is, no doubt, extraordinarily difficult to arrange to achieve the right balance of hues. Each piece is set with the three-hand selfwinding caliber 5909.

Audemars Piguet
Audemars Piguet

One of the coolest pieces in the new lineup is just a prototype for now, but it offers a glimpse of what’s to come in the future. Chroma Gold is a patented innovation blending yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold via Spark Plasma Sintering technology. Each gold variation is melted before droplets are atomized into powders. They are then combined in their respective pattern in a circular graphite mold which is then sintered via an electrical current. It is a first for the watch industry.

Audemars Piguet

Even in jewellery it is notoriously difficult to work with multiple types of metal in one piece due to the variations in consistency and that’s without trying to blend them together. The only time we have seen the blending of two different types of gold before is in American jeweler Adam Neeley’s proprietary SpectraGold, which is currently pending a patent. AP’s Chroma Gold follows the debut of a similar method with ceramic that debuted in a prototype earlier this year allowing the company to blend various hues of the material. Camo isn’t for everyone, but the multi-hued gold version certainly makes a compelling case for the machismo pattern. On the right hands it will be irresistibly cool.

 

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Watch of the Week: IWC Ceralume Pilot’s Chronograph

The concept watch hints at the future of IWC’s proprietary luminous ceramic technology.

By Josh Bozin 31/05/2024

Did you catch Lewis Hamilton rocking a new IWC Schaffhausen timepiece at the Monaco Grand Prix over the weekend? We did too, and as curious watch fanatics, we couldn’t help but speculate on what exactly this stark-white timepiece could be. A new iteration of the 2022 Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN “Lake Tahoe” edition, perhaps?

Sort of.

Earlier this week, IWC took to Instagram to reveal what its experimental engineering division, XPL, has been working on over the last few years. Introducing the new IWC Ceralume Pilot’s Chronograph—a ceramic watch, albeit a prototype, that completely glows in the dark, from case to dial to strap!

IWC

Such wizardry is thanks to a proprietary luminous ceramic technology that IWC calls “Ceralume.” This technical feat has allowed IWC watchmakers to produce their very first fully luminous ceramic watch. Building on its 40-year journey as true pioneers of engineering ceramic material within watches—ceramic is notoriously difficult to work with, you see—IWC is no stranger to such technical feats.

Thanks to the homogeneous mixing of ceramic powders with high-grade Super-LumiNova pigments, IWC has fashioned a luminous material that acts like a battery for storing light energy. Utilising the new Ceralume technology, this fully luminous concept Pilot’s Chronograph emits a bright blueish light that lasts more than 24 hours.

“With the first fully luminous ceramic case rings, we underscore our role as a pioneer and innovator in ceramic watches. The development of Ceralume took several years. The main challenges we faced were producing watch cases with maximum homogeneity and meeting our exacting quality standards,” says Dr. Lorenz Brunner, Department Manager Research & Innovation at IWC Schaffhausen.

“To achieve these goals, we engineered a ground-breaking new manufacturing process – tailored to the unique combination of ceramic powders and Super-LumiNova pigments.”

If we’re to get extra technical, the ceramic material absorbs light energy from sunlight (or artificial light), stores it temporarily, and then emits the absorbed energy as visible light—the luminous “glow” that you see below. According to IWC, this cycle is infinite and will never cause the material to age or diminish its light storage capacity.

IWC

Developed completely in-house by IWC and its Experimental Engineering Division (XPL), the patent-pending Ceralume technology will undoubtedly form the foundation of future developments and releases, with a broader commercial release imminent.

To learn more, visit iwc.com

 

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